According to multiple reports, Manchester United have given up on the pursuit of Ajax captain Matthijs De Ligt because they fear he may grow fat in the future. The Dutch international has attracted interests from a host of top clubs across Europe following an impressive season with Ajax.
At the age of 19, De Ligt led Ajax to their first champions league semi-finals in 22 years while he also led the club to victory in the KNVB cup final, their first trophy in five years. The Lancers are also on the verge of winning the Eredivisie title this season. All these feats have made De Ligt the most sought after centre back in Europe.
However, United are no longer among the clubs scrambling for the Dutch star’s signature due to fears over his weight. While United have retained their interest, Barcelona are leading the chase for De Ligt after Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar confirmed the teenager is likely to leave this summer.
According to AS, Barcelona have moved one step closer to signing De Ligt. Catalan daily Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona representatives “at the highest level” managed to accelerate negotiations with Ajax on Friday as they look to secure De Ligt’s signature amid interest from other clubs.
De Ligt has long been linked with a move to Camp Nou and was expected to be snapped up by Barça at the same as his team mate Frenkie de Jong, who signed for the club back in January for 86 million euros ($96 million).
But while a deal did not materialise in January, De Ligt links with the Spanish champions have not subsided in the proceeding months.
Barcelona number one choice for De Ligt
Having led Ajax to their first Champions League semi-final since 1997, 19-year-old De Ligt has become one of the hottest properties in European football and is high on the agenda of several of Europe’s top clubs, including Juventus, PSG and Bayern Munich.
But it is understood that the defender’s number one preference is still to follow his Holland and Ajax team-mate De Jong to Barcelona. Earlier this week, Ajax sporting director Edwin van der Sar told Sky Sports Italia that De Ligt would move to a club in either Spain or England.
Although, reports in the British press on Tuesday claimed the young Ajax captain has already rejected a £60 million (69 million euro) move to Manchester United.
Ajax and Barcelona working to reach final De Ligt agreement
According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona and Ajax are now working to reach a final agreement on De Ligt, whose value has skyrocketed since January on the back of his exploits in Europe, from 16 million euros to 70 million euros (transfermarkt.com valuation).
After crashing out of the Champions League following their shock defeat to Liverpool on Tuesday, Barcelona are pushing ahead with their plan to strengthen their squad for next season.
Having already secured the services of midfield ace De Jong, De Ligt and Atlético striker Antoine Griezmann (who is also reportedly keen to make the switch to Camp Nou) are believed to be the two main priorities for El Blaugrana in this summer’s transfer market.